UWF students participate in the United Way’s Day of Caring on Friday at Wayside Park in Pensacola. Anne Delaneyemail@example.com
Tim Land’s beard was covered with small wood chips.
Land, an employee with the city of Pensacola Parks and Recreation Department, was using a power tool to clear excess branches from trees Friday in Wayside Park.
Other pieces of wood stuck to Land’s sweaty forearms as he was followed by a handful of eager University of West Florida students, who removed the small pile of branches.
Land and the approximately 160 UWF students spent two hours beautifying the park as part of the United Way of Escambia County’s 24th Day of Caring.
More than 1,300 volunteers from different businesses and organizations worked on 89 projects.
“It was 89 projects worth of crazy, which is all very good,” United Way of Escambia County President and CEO Andrea Krieger said.
Krieger said at several sites she visited there were more volunteers than the initial estimate. Krieger said she had a head count of 50 for Wayside Park. The total was more than doubled with two groups of UWF students showing up.
Krieger said 1,000 volunteers is the average for the Day of Caring. She attributed the higher numbers this year to the volunteers meeting in advance with members of the agency or project they were going to serve.
“You get inspired once you know the partner and you realize you can stop what you’re doing at the office and care about the community,” Krieger said.
Land, who is the parks and recreation department’s volunteer outdoor pursuits coordinator, was participating in the Day of Caring for the third time.
“The biggest thing is opening up the park,” he said. “If you’re driving into Pensacola from Gulf Breeze, it’s the first city park they see. It’s an entrance to Pensacola, and it’s a park that needs TLC.
Other UWF students carried garbage bags around to clean up the grounds while others painted the picnic pavilions.
Twenty-one-year-old junior Joshua Darnes and two UWF friends cleaned up sidewalks near the parking lot and loaded the dirt and debris into a wheelbarrow.
Darnes, sophomore Jamarkus Guest and senior DiCarlo Thomas are members of the university’s chapter of Collegiate 100, a break-off group of the service organization 100 Black Men of America.
Darnes was born and raised in Pensacola, he graduated from Pensacola High School in 2013, and he has strong feelings about his hometown.
“I love my city,” Darnes said. “It’s a city to love. A lot of people come here (to Wayside Park) to chill, to let loose. You look at the water and what more could you want?”